Cisco struggling to have its VoIP heard

Cisco struggling to have its VoIP heard

Undaunted by the incumbent position held in the carrier market by its remaining competitors Cisco Systems says it too will soon trumpet successes in service provider packet telephony.

Cisco's leadership in enterprise voice-over-IP is well understood, thanks to the company's near monopoly position in enterprise data networks. But Cisco's fortunes in service provider packet telephony have been less evident even though the company says it's been pleased to date with its results.

"We certainly feel reasonably positive, particularly as we run some of the largest VoIP networks in the world, most notable the ones in the People's Republic of China," says Phil Sherburne, general manager of Cisco's packet telephony call control division. "In service provider packet telephony overall, we certainly view ourselves as very much participating and as having been quite successful in a large number of service provider packet telephony deployments."

Sherburne says Cisco will announce some packet telephony wins in the coming months, focusing predominantly on voice over broadband access lines, such as Ethernet and cable. Indeed, voice over broadband access is Cisco's sweetspot in service provider packet telephony, as opposed to other areas, such as Internet offload, tandem switch replacement and Class 5 circuit switch augmentation and/or replacement.

But analysts are awaiting further clarity in Cisco's service provider packet telephony strategy.

"Cisco has a great packet telephony story for enterprise-based solutions, but it's been unclear what its direction is with respect to voice-over-IP in service provider markets," says Teresa Mastrangelo, a senior analyst with RHK. "There's no clear Class 4/Class 5 story. In the cable space, it has a good opportunity to gain some market share with voice applications based on its strong (cable modem termination system) presence, but even that is unclear as to which product would be part of that voice solution."

Meanwhile both Nortel Networks and Lucent Technologies have announced major contract wins and new offerings in the service provider packet telephony space.

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